Monday, August 16, 2010

Papua New Guinea estimates national HIV prevalence at 0.9% in 2009

PORT MORESBY: The PNG Department of Health (NDOH) and National AIDS Council Secretariat (NACS) have estimated that national HIV prevalence in 2010 is 0.92% with an upward trend.

The latest estimate is based on an analysis conducted in 2009 using most recent data available across the country.

The new estimates of HIV prevalence were carried out by a panel of national and international experts using data on HIV tests among pregnant women at Antenatal Clinics (ANCs) in Highlands, Southern, Momase, and New Guinea Islands regions.

The results were collated and finalised during a joint NDOH-NACS workshop in June 2010.

PNG has been using higher estimates of prevalence since 2007 based on data from a relatively small number of rural and urban sites.

Since then there has been a substantial increase in number of health facilities conducting HIV tests among antenatal mothers and this information has provided enough data to get a better picture of the epidemic in 2009 with a revised 0.92 % prevalence of HIV among adults aged 15-49 years.

 The findings also indicate that there might possibly be an initiation of levelling-off in the spread of epidemic which, however, requires further careful investigations.

National AIDS Council chairman Sir Peter Barter, while expressing his views on the 2009 HIV analysis, said: “The latest estimates have provided us an opportunity to understand the dynamics of HIV spread in the country and see how we are responding to the disease.

“We should not become complacent or relaxed as a result of latest prevalence estimates.

“To me the latest figure of 0.9% is just a step forward towards having a better and realistic picture of HIV/AIDS in Papua New Guinea as a result of ten-fold improved surveillance.

“The problem of HIV/AIDS is enormous in our country and we need to invest equally enormous resources to fight it out.

“I do not doubt the spread of HIV in high risk groups remains alarmingly high.”

The new estimate has shown substantial increase in the number of ANC sites providing testing services throughout the country from 17 in 2005 to 178 in 2009 resulting in more information being available to draw from.

The latest estimates imply that there have been improvements in the disease surveillance and access to better HIV-related services; however, all other HIV indicators including number of deaths, number of orphans, new HIV cases, stigma, and discrimination do not provide encouraging signs.

The HIV occurrence has been found to be the highest in Highlands and Southern Region (1.02% and 1.17%, respectively) with lower but increasing estimates in Momase and New Guinea Islands (0.63% and 0.61%, respectively).

The total estimated number of people living with HIV in 2009 is 34,100.

Of these, 31,000 were estimated to be adults aged 15+ and 3,100 were estimated to be children.

Overall, about 3,200 people were estimated to be infected in 2009, while more than 1,300 people were estimated to have died from AIDS in the same year.

This analysis also noted a substantial increase in the number of people who are benefiting from counselling and treatment services.

There has also been an increase in the number of newborns able to benefit from the prevention programmes for parent to child HIV transmission.

The new HIV estimates, while presenting the latest overview of the prevalence, have some limitations also to the accuracy of data.

Although much more data is available, the quality of this data is still variable.

There were only a small number of sites that had consistent data.

The team of experts who conducted these estimates has recommended to (a) strengthen surveillance activities, (b) invest in sustainable prevention and treatment efforts, (c) use behavioural and STI surveillance data for interpretation of prevalence trends, and (d) conduct a national household HIV prevalence survey.

Sir Peter said that regardless of what appeared to be a reduced prevalence rate, the first priority must be given to prevention and the strategy was clearly outlined in the National Prevention Strategy and would be evident in the 2011-2016 National HIV Strategy due to be released in the very near future.

No comments:

Post a Comment